Saudi Officers Killed in Helicopter Crash in Yemen

Ahmad Asiri

Ahmad Asiri

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says North Korea's latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation.

The country plans to double refining capacity to as much as 10 million barrels a day within 10 years, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih has said. Millions of people are also struggling to feed themselves.

The Saudi air force has been launching strikes on Yemen, mainly Houthi dominated areas, since March 2015.

Asked by reporters about the chance of stepping up American support, Mattis did not reply and instead emphasised the return to peace talks.

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The US objective is for the crisis to "be put in front of a UN-brokered negotiating team and try to resolve this politically as soon as possible", he added. Yemenis said, however, that armed forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied to Houthis, shot down the aircraft with surface-to-air missiles.

Ahmed Asiri said on Sunday that Riyadh had postponed the offer because Saudi Arabia's goal had been to build a strong Yemeni army that would be able to protect Yemen in the future.

As Saudi Arabia is overcomplying with the OPEC production cuts and showing fellow OPEC members a "lead by example", the Kingdom cut its crude oil exports in February to the lowest level since May 2015, while Saudi refineries processed record amounts of supply for domestic use.

Jon Alterman, head of the Middle East programme at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Saudi Arabia was concerned strategically about Iran, its main rival in a regional power struggle.

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Under Mr Obama tactical assistance to the coalition was greatly reduced because of concerns over civilian casualties and other disagreements.

President Trump ordered a Navy strike ground led by an aircraft carrier to the Western Pacific Ocean last week amid rising tensions between the US and North Korea.

"The Egyptian military is now taking part with naval and aerial forces but at that time we were talking about around 30 to 40 thousand ground troops", the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition went on to say.

The United States' involvement in Yemen has also focused on battling al-Qaeda, whose affiliate there has taken advantage of the chaos caused by the war.

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